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South Africa reach AFCON last 16 as Tunisia crash out after goalless draw

South Africa finished second in Group E, while Tunisia ended bottom (Themba Hadebe/AP)
South Africa finished second in Group E, while Tunisia ended bottom (Themba Hadebe/AP)

South Africa advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations last 16 with Tunisia crashing out as the sides played out a goalless draw in their final Group E match in Korhogo.

Tunisia substitute Haythem Jouini headed over from a great position late on as the 2004 champions failed to secure the win they required to keep their campaign alive.

While Jalel Kadri’s side finish bottom of the group with two points, Hugo Broos’ South Africa went through with four – claiming the runners-up spot behind Mali. Broos’ men will play Morocco in San-Pedro next Tuesday.

Namibia, with whom Mali drew 0-0 on Wednesday, have also qualified for the next round as one of the group stage’s four best third-placed finishers.

After a cagey start, pressure from Tunisia saw Ellyes Skhiri shoot too high and Elias Achouri put a header wide.

South Africa responded with Evidence Makgopa heading off target and Thapelo Morena unleashing a 33rd-minute strike that just missed the top corner.

Mothobi Mvala and Percy Tau produced further unsuccessful efforts for the Bafana Bafana towards the end of the first half.

Tunisia substitute Haythem Jouini heads over late on (Themba Hadebe/AP)
Tunisia substitute Haythem Jouini headed over late on (Themba Hadebe/AP)

Neither side was able to fashion much in the way of attack after the break until a flurry of attempts from South Africa that started with a Sphephelo Sithole drive that was parried by Bechir Ben Said with just under 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

Subsequent shots from Teboho Mokoena and Tau went wide before Ben Said kept out Makgopa’s header.

As Tunisia made a late push to save themselves, Jouini squandered a great chance in the 89th minute as he headed over from fellow substitute Sayfallah Ltaief’s cross.

Another header, from skipper Yassine Meriah, then had the same outcome in stoppage time as the Eagles of Carthage’s hopes of progress ended.